Tips For Flying With Kids On Budget Airlines

Tips For Flying With Kids

When we went to Sydney a couple of weeks ago, we flew with Tiger Airways. We flew with them because quite simply they were the cheapest! Flying a large family is an expensive thing to do, but as Sydney is only an hour flight from Melbourne, I had no problem flying with a budget airline.

I flew with the five kids on my own and the return trip including all airport taxes and additional fees so we could take 30kg luggage, cost $710. Tiger Airways actually charge for infants (8 days to 23 months) a flat fee of $30. This meant as our tickets from Melbourne to Sydney were a super special at $28.95 each, the toddler had the most expensive seat on my lap!

In assessing our experience for value for money, Tiger Airways was good. I had heard some less than great stories about the budget airline so my expectations weren’t high. It was cheap and cheerful and thankfully I had done some planning for the flight which really helped things go more smoothly. My top tips for flying with kids on Tiger are:

Be prepared for delays.

We were delayed at both ends. From Melbourne when we had a 6.50am (yes AM!!!) flight we were delayed by over an hour. In Sydney the delay was 30 minutes. The budget airlines seem to have such small margin for error, as they turn around flights so quickly. It appears that the domino effect for even small delays can end up quite significant. For a parent this means extra food supplies and changes of clothes for baby/toddler. My toddler poured water over one lot of his clothes, then to my horror, while waiting in the very crowded departure lounge, he had diarrhea and went through the spare set of clothes that he had. He then flew to Sydney in only a nappy and a hoodie.

In flight food and entertainment.

Tips For Flying With Kids - Activity Packs
Tiger Airways supply no free food or any activities for the kids. They run a cashless food service, where you can hand over your credit card and pay ridiculous amounts of money for junk food (or alcohol!). So make sure you pack your own food and water supplies.

I also made each child an activity pack. (They were gold for passing the time while we waited for our flights as well.) I went for open ended activity packs that allowed them to use their imagination. The stickers, writing paper and envelopes were a big hit the four and six year old. I had recently taught the older boys (11 and 8 year olds) the basics of Blackjack, no gambling of course, but it is a fantastic card game for the kids mental maths. There is no in-flight entertainment paid or free – accept of course for people watching which I am quite fond of :) .


There are no tags available to label your luggage at check in, so make sure you have your luggage labeled. Almost all fares only include carry on luggage. Carry on luggage is restricted to 7kgs. At both Melbourne and Sydney they weighed the carry on luggage and people had to remove items to get their weight down. We purchased 2 x 15kg extra luggage which cost $40. We took two suitcases and they weighed exactly 30kgs and I have to admit that is my best ever packing effort.


The Tiger Airways Tullamarine check in is separate to the rest of the domestic airlines. It is almost like a big old shed and is cold. It was slightly warmer in the departure lounge but then when you have to you board the plane, there is a decent walk outside and it was very cold the morning that we left. But I was just really grateful that it was not raining, as part of the walk is not under cover. This walk on the tarmac was however, a highlight for the preschooler. Being so close to the planes, the noise of the engines, he found it all very exciting. The walk on the tarmac in the open air is much shorter at Sydney.

Passengers are required to walk on the tarmac with Tiger Airways, depending on where you are seated on the plane. As part of the strategy to turn the planes around so quickly, passengers board at the front and end of the plane. We managed to have seats allocated at the back of the plane, both times, hence our walks on the tarmac and up some very steep steel stairs. On the plane itself it was quite warm, so I definitely recommend layers for traveling with Tiger.

Service and amenities

The plane was very clean and presentable. I didn’t use the toilet facilities, as I breastfed the toddler to sleep on both flights and he slept on my lap for the remainder of the flights. The staff certainly don’t fuss over you, but were very friendly to us. As there is such tight restrictions on luggage, everyone seems to have carry on luggage. We were some of the last to enter the plane on the way home and there was no room in the over head luggage compartments anywhere near us. So we had to stash all the backpacks and my bag (5 in total) under the seats in front of us.

Online Booking

It is only worth it to fly Tiger Airways if you are prepared to book online. They charge a
$150.00 administration fee if you book via their call centre.

What other tips can you suggest for parents thinking about flying with kids on a budget airline?


  1. Mike says

    710 bucks for 4 and an infant isn’t cheap. That’s like $80 each. Jetstar and virgin regularly advertise a lot cheaper than that and that includes bags and things.

    Pays to shop around and compare the full price. Jetstar and virgin are both heaps better than tiger.

  2. Catherine says

    My tip for any plane travel with lots of kids is not to take pencil cases full of loose pencils (you will spend the whole trip chasing rolling pencils down the aisle and under seats – which is even harder with an infant on your lap). Magna doodles with the stylus attached, or pencils tied onto the spiral of a note book work better for me.

    • says

      Oh great tip Catherine! The kids only had two pencils each, which was ok, but I can imagine what would have happened if we had brought along the pencil cases :) .

  3. says

    Great tips that I think would work regardless of what airline you fly!

    We are not regular fliers (any more.. I used to be before kids!) but we are hoping to go to Qland towards the end of the year which means me on a plane with all four kids and DH driving…. I am saving this post cause I am sure going to need it!

  4. says

    The plane we were on was 3 seats an aisle then 3 seats. I sat with the youngest two on one side, with me near the aisle and then the older two on the other side. When we checked in at Sydney they had to rearrange other passengers to make sure that we were like this, as I had to be in the same row as all the kids. I don’t think the young girls that were separated for us to sit together were very happy about it!

  5. says

    All great tips!

    PS: the editorial pedant in me feels compelled to point out that it is Tullamarine, not Tullermarine. Sorry, I just cannot help myself :-(

  6. says

    I really like the colouring books that need just one pen – like the magic pens where you swipe them over the page and the colours appear.

    I also invest in some little toys and wrap them up, kind of like a lucky dip and the girls get to unwrap and play with their new toys. They are especially fond of the Pokemon toys in the vending machines at the shops so I grab some of those before flights.

    The other thing i pack is heaps of disposable earplugs. If either of my children start crying I hand them out to passengers near us with an apology – a sense of humour goes a long way towards defusing any problems. Not such an issue now the girls are older but I still pack the earplugs in case.


  1. […] you will see why.Tips for flying with Air Asia X The tips in a previous post of mine – Flying With Kids On Budget Airlines also apply to flying with Air AsiaX – except for the delay part. My flights were punctual.If […]